hand holding lifestraw

There’s an old proverb which says, “Necessity is the mother of invention.”

Necessity doesn’t get much bigger than access to clean drinking water. 785 million people around the globe lack access to clean drinking water. Sadly 800 children die every day as a result of drinking contaminated water or a scarcity of clean water.1

Fortunately, in 1992, a young man called Mikkel Vestergaard Frandsen witnessed the tragedy of this situation during a trip to Nigeria. Ironically, Mikkel was trying to escape the family business at the time. That business was Vestergaard Frandsen, now shortened to Vestergaard, the company responsible for manufacturing LifeStraw.

But back then, Vestergaard was a company focused on textiles, and Mikkel was directed to get rid of a large quantity of surplus fabric. That’s where the humanitarian journey began.

Aid organisations used the materials to provide blankets and to protect people from tsetse flies and malaria-spreading mosquitoes, paving the way for Vestergaard’s ‘revised’ future.

Mikkel had the idea of a device to treat tainted water. Version 1 was simply a pipe with a fabric textile filter. But it was very effective at removing Guinea Worm, a parasite found in water that infects humans and causes serious health issues.3

By 2005, the device we now know as LifeStraw was introduced for humanitarian purposes. Along with a new design, it came with the ability to transform dirty water into safe drinking water by removing both bacteria and parasites.

It’s no wonder that the Rotary organisation, no stranger to helping humanity around the world, called it ‘The invention of the century’, while Scientific American, introduced LifeStraw to their readers with the following sentence: “Sometimes, it’s the simplest technologies that have the greatest potential impact on people’s lives.”

Vestergaard still has an interest in fabric, but these days the focus is entirely on healthcare and prevention. PermaNet, for example, is a long-lasting insecticidal bednet that plays a leading role in the fight against malaria.6

The LifeStraw device has come a long way too.

The LifeStraw microfilters remove 99.999999% of bacteria (including E.coli, Salmonella), 99.999% of parasites (including Giardia and Cryptosporidium), 99.999% of microplastics, as well as dirt, sand and cloudiness. Those products in the range incorporating carbon filters will also remove chlorine, organic chemical matter and odours for improved taste.7

So, the LifeStraw products are the perfect companion for hiking, camping or surviving when you don’t have access to a tap – rivers, streams, ponds, dams – they can also be sources of hydration with a LifeStraw in your pocket or pack.

While that might appear to be a long way from the issues faced by developing nations in sourcing drinkable water, rest assured that every purchase of any LifeStraw product provides a year of safe water to a child in need in developing countries, through the Give Back program.8

You can check out the range of LifeStraw products here.

Sources:

  1. https://www.worldvision.com.au/global-water-crisis-facts
  2. https://www.borgenmagazine.com/history-in-the-making-developing-lifestraw/
  3. https://www.cdc.gov/parasites/guineaworm/gen_info/faqs.html
  4. https://www.rotary-ribi.org/districts/page.php?PgID=70439&DistrictNo=1240
  5. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/water-filtration-system/
  6. https://vestergaard.com/products/public-health/
  7. https://lifestraw.com/pages/how-our-products-work
  8. https://lifestraw.com/pages/giving-back